Assistant Professor Liuyan Zhao was recently awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She studies the topic of emergent phases of matter in solids. Emergence describes the collective behavior of the whole that is different from its individual parts. According to Zhao, we see this in a broad class of quantum materials — Zhao’s research topic — sharing the same emergence concept as the formation of cultures in human society, the flocking of birds and the development of varied phases of matter in materials.
Her work currently focuses on discovering and understanding novel phases that emerge from two regimes: first, the 2-dimensional limit where interactions are confined within an atomic thick layer; and second, the strongly correlated regime for which especially strong interactions between electrons induce both competition and cooperation. Her work at U-M focuses on developing ways to manipulate the interactions in these two families of materials.
“I am very honored to receive a Sloan research fellowship in physics this year,” said Zhao, assistant professor of physics. “The fellowship will be used to explore a new research direction in my group, as well as in our field, which is to design magnetic properties in atomically thin magnetic superstructures. I am very much excited about the prospects in this new direction.”
According to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation website, "A Sloan Research Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards available to young researchers, in part because so many past Fellows have gone on to become towering figures in the history of science. Renowned physicists Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann were Sloan Research Fellows, as was mathematician John Nash, one of the fathers of modern game theory. For the past three years, the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics have included former Fellows—Andrea Ghez (2020), James Peebles (2019), and Donna Strickland (2018). In fact, 51 Fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 17 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 69 have received the National Medal of Science, and 20 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, including every winner since 2007."
Find out more about Professor Zhao's three U-M colleagues who were also awarded a fellowship in The University Record's online news story.